The most important lesson you’ll ever learn

A good friend asked me a question today. It was a question that I couldn’t find an immediate response for. It was a question that truly made me think.

“What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned since returning home?”

That’s a fine question. One of those beautiful moments where you immediately forget about what you’re doing, sink deep into thought, and let your mind and heart connect in an joint effort to begin realizing an answer.

My friend stared at me, wondering what kind of path I was silently walking along on my quest for clarity. She changed my life today. I never told her, of course. It was the hours that followed that led me to that conclusion.

“I’ve learned that the only person responsible for my joy and fulfillment is myself. That my surroundings are not what inspired me this past year, and that being on a grand adventure was not the leading factor in arriving at a most intimate understanding of myself.”

I’ve been back in Canada for three short weeks. During those three weeks, I’ve moved to a new city, I’ve joined an early-stage company as their tech lead, I’ve discovered old friends in a new place, and I’ve been excited every moment of every day.

I cannot name a single soul who would have bet on me being employed within three weeks. In fact, I can’t name anybody who would have guessed I’d be employed anytime this summer.

I wouldn’t have bet on that scenario either.

But it happened. And it happened because I don’t have every moment of every day planned. Because I let the universe guide me. Because I’m open to change and challenge and opportunity.

It’s a beautiful, comforting, awe-inspiring moment when you realize you don’t need to be on a grand adventure to be excited, to be challenged, to be driven, and to meet great people. Life itself is the grand adventure.

I will continue to iterate that planning your entire life out is not the road to happiness. Let life happen. Be excited. Be eager. Be driven.

Embrace the unknown. The most amazing thing about having no direction is this: at that exact moment, you can do anything.

Make each chapter of your life count. Many have passed, and many more are yet to arrive. Make each one as interesting and uplifting and inspiring a read as possible.

Conan O’Brian, after being an icon of late-night television for over 17 years, ended his career with a brilliant line: “If you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.”

I would amend that incredible statement with one more all-important point: “If you work really hard and you’re kind and you have faith, amazing things will happen.”

And I stand behind that promise.